Marine

Waterjet-propelled hoverboards elevate Dubai firefighters

Waterjet-propelled hoverboards...
The water jet offers an unlimited source of firefighting water
The water jet offers an unlimited source of firefighting water
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Mounted on a jet ski, a Dolphin operator is free to travel at high speed across the water
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Mounted on a jet ski, a Dolphin operator is free to travel at high speed across the water
Flying on jets of water, the firefighter is lifted up to incident level
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Flying on jets of water, the firefighter is lifted up to incident level
The water jet offers an unlimited source of firefighting water
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The water jet offers an unlimited source of firefighting water
Thrust from the water hose might be difficult and physical to push against
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Thrust from the water hose might be difficult and physical to push against

Dubai has certainly been a big supporter of out-there technology projects in recent years. Among its supercar police fleet, crime detection algorithms, drone racing facilities, underwater Hyperloop projects and floating luxury homes, the city has shown a lot of early support for jetpacks.

While some figures may have been fudged in regard to the "world's most expensive billboard," the fact remains that it did indeed have a guy on a hydrogen peroxide rocket belt flying around it back in 2012. And in 2015, Jetman daredevil Yves Rossy took to the skies over Dubai to fly with an Airbus A380 in a spectacular publicity stunt for Emirates Airline.

Also in 2015, the UAE's Directorate of Civil Defence signed a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand's Martin Aircraft Company for an initial delivery of up to 20 Martin Jetpacks for use in firefighting in high-rise buildings. It's interesting to note that all mention of this deal has disappeared from the Martin website, indicating that this project might be dead.

Today, the Dubai Media Office released video of a new jetpack firefighting initiative that's a bit simpler and more affordable.

الدولفين

The Dolphin project appears to put a practical twist on the Zapata Flyboard, a US$4,500 waterjet-propelled flying platform driven by a powerful jet ski motor. Flyboards have been popping up as tourist attractions and entertainment experiences all over the world, and inventor Franky Zapata has more recently been setting a number of records and dazzling crowds on an untethered, jet turbine powered Flyboard Air hoverboard.

The Dolphin project envisages an aquatic, quick response firefighting unit that can get a firefighter to any water-adjacent location in a matter of minutes no matter what the traffic's like.

Rising up on a jet of water, the firefighter can get a hose onto the fire, using an unlimited source of water to douse the blaze, and potentially getting to the scene before a firetruck can or, in the case demonstrated in the video above, some kind of firefighting supercar.

Thrust from the water hose might be difficult and physical to push against
Thrust from the water hose might be difficult and physical to push against

While the video's undeniably very cool, and has been receiving plenty of attention, we can see a few problems.

Firstly, the Dolphin system would only be useful in a very limited set of circumstances; fires that are right next to water that firetrucks are struggling to get to, and that don't need the firefighter to get more than 30 feet above the water surface – the maximum length of the Flyboard hoses. Boat and marina fires seem to fit the bill, too.

Secondly, any quick response ability might be negated by the need for the jet ski rider to jump off, pull all the flying platform gear out, strap the jet boots on and get airborne.

Thirdly, the firehose itself will be heavy and cumbersome to lift, and the jet of water it provides will produce a significant thrust away from the target area. That's gonna take some physical effort to work against.

Still, practicalities aside, it's a fun idea and will certainly raise some eyebrows if it ever gets used for real.

Source: Dubai Media Office

9 comments
Milton
Clicked thinking this was going to be a joke, and... yep.
DavidIngram
What could possible go wrong?!!!!!!
Bob Flint
Firefighting is no joke...burning stranded cars on bridges seems to be a real issue in Saudi??? Did the Lambo fire vehicle have a flat??? Getting to the scene & setting up is ridiculous...but that's their point
McDesign
This is why Dubai has to farm out all of its engineering to other countries - its own ideas are childish, at best.
Wolf0579
Now that I think about it, it shouldn't be too long before they drown a few fire-fighters, and decide to get a fire-fighting boat instead... it's not like they have a shortage of oil money.
Bricorn
Those hoses can push over strong men standing on the ground. He's supposed to use one while balancing on a board? Not exactly practical.
highlandboy
Easy to knock an idea, but with a few improvments this is feasible: 1. Hose goes from board to firefighter as you allready have high pressure water to the board. Length 2m. 2. Gyros would create stability and could be powered by the water flow. 3. Rotation touque created from hose could be counters by a deviatiob in the lift jet controled but the on lever. 4. Preparation time reduced by integrating board into standup jetski.
ShawNorris
"Secondly, any quick response ability might be negated by the need for the jet ski rider to jump off, pull all the flying platform gear out, strap the jet boots on and get airborne." They train specifically for this and have it down to a very short time. The equipment is in a cage box 99% configured and the connection switches over in less than a minute. Then the boots go on and the action begins. "Thirdly, the firehose itself will be heavy and cumbersome to lift, and the jet of water it provides will produce a significant thrust away from the target area. That's gonna take some physical effort to work against." Human balance takes care of all of these opposing forces naturally. The weight of the firehose is commonly disregarded in hydroflight and in this firefighting application. The power is supplied by a 300 horsepower SeaDoo jetski and is more than enough to do both jobs! The system can fill a 4000 gallon tanker truck in less than two and a half minutes, compared to over four minutes with the conventional filling pump.
EH
I'd think flying over the fire would do the trick without a separate hose. Flying over adjacent boats in a marina fire would reduce the chance of a fire spreading as well.